To ensure the health of New Hampshire’s police officers, departments are implementing new measures to keep their officers safe from COVID-19.
Some officers have halted hand-shaking, while some departments are prohibiting fingerprinting services to the public and others are stopping station tours and ride-alongs and limiting public access to their facilities.
Many police departments are asking their officers to handle all non-emergency situations by telephone, including police in Mont Vernon, Merrimack and Hollis.
“I have changed the call procedures for officers, thereby allowing them to take reports and gather information from reporting parties via telephone,” Hollis Chief Joseph Hoebeke said in a statementw. “This, however, does not mean that officers will not respond to calls that require their attention, such as those crimes or incidents that present an imminent or immediate threat to safety.”
Hoebeke has also ordered all Hollis officers to refrain from entering homes in response to calls for service, including medical calls, unless there is an imminent threat to life.
In Nashua, dispatchers may be asking additional screening questions when taking calls, and officers will most likely ask residents to step outside to speak with them while maintaining social distance.
“These measures are designed to assist with our increased safety protocols,” said Nashua Chief Mike Carignan.
Nashua police may be seen wearing gloves, masks, gowns or eye protection in the days ahead, according to Carignan.
“If for some reason you see police personnel wearing different styles of personal protective equipment, you should not assume that the COVID-19 virus is present on a call.”
In Mont Vernon and Hampton, police have temporarily suspended fingerprint services to the public, and are encouraging officers to conduct business over the phone or from a safe distance when possible.
Officers in Manchester and Mont Vernon are asking residents to call the station instead of visiting in person whenever possible.
In a statement, Manchester Chief Carlo Capano said his department also will be minimizing face-to-face contact whenever possible, but will continue to have the same number of officers on the streets. They are urging citizens with non-emergency police business to call rather than walk into the police lobby.
“We are confident that the police department is prepared for anything that may arise,” Manchester Chief Carlo Capano said in a statement.
In Bedford, the town’s public safety complex is now closed for all non-essential business, although the lobby will remain open. Visitors have been ordered to use the telephone in the lobby to speak with an employee.
Nashua Fire Rescue says it will not be issuing new burning permits. Instead, only seasonal permits may be renewed via telephone.